Inveraray is a charming small town in Argyll on the western shore of Loch Fyne – the longest sea loch in Scotland. Inveraray was a royal burgh in the mid-1600s and became the administrative capital of Argyll. With the growing power of Clan Campbell in the 1700s, the 3rd Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, rebuilt this town with Georgian architecture that you can see today in Inveraray.
From a fairytale castle to a historic jail, stunning loch view to scenic walks – Inveraray has plenty of things to offer. Inveraray has an important wartime history as well. During the second world war, Combined Operation Training Centre was based near here. It played a vital role in training about a quarter of a million troops before the D-Day landing.
Inveraray is very popular with day-trippers from Glasgow. You can easily extend your trip to Kilchurn Castle and Oban from here. Here is our guide to 13 best things to in and around Inveraray.
Getting in Inveraray:
Citylink runs bus services 926 and 976 from Glasgow to Campbelltown and Oban. They pass through Inveraray. From Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station, it typically takes about 1 hour 50 minutes to reach Inveraray. By Car, it takes about an hour and a half from Glasgow.
Glasgow is well connected with other cities in Scotland by Citylink buses and Scotrail.
Best Time to Visit Inveraray:
Summer (June to August) is the busiest season to visit Inveraray. Our pick would be autumn when nature spruces up with colours. Just keep in mind that the castle is open from April to October. So, if you are planning to visit in autumn, make sure you do that by the last weekend of October.
🏴 15 Incredible Things to do in Inveraray
1. Visit Inveraray Castle
Inveraray castle is one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. This fairytale castle, designed by famous architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, is the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Campbell. They are one of the well-known Scottish clans across the world. The present Duke and his family still live in the caste today.
Once here, explore the colourful past of this 18th century green castle and learn the clan rivalry, their role in Scottish independence and Jacobite Rising. On the walls in the Armoury Hall, you will see the weapons (muskets, pikes, swords) used in the wars Clan Campbell got involved. That includes the Battle of Culloden. Armoury Hall has one of the tallest ceilings in Scotland.
Enjoy a walk around their amazing garden which is famous for its rhododendrons. The castle is usually open from April to October. The entrance fee is £13.50 per adult.
Did you know? 2012 Christmas episode of ITV historic drama Series, Downton Abbey was filmed here as Lady Rose’s parental house.
2. Hike to Dun Na Cuaiche Viewpiont
Dun Na Cuaiche is an 18th century watchtower overlooking the Loch Fyne and Inveraray Castle. Dun na Cuaiche in Gaelic means ‘the hill of the cup’. It’s named so because of the hollowed shape at the top of the hill.
From the ground of Inveraray Castle, it would take about an hour to reach the summit which is about 248 meters high. The path is properly waymarked and quite an easy walk. Cross the ornamental Garden Bridge over the River Array and Keep following the blue arrows. In Spring, you would get to see bluebells in this woodland walk.
The view from the top is simply breath-taking. You can see the vast stretch of Loch Fyne, Arrochar Alps and the entire town. A perfect place to have a picnic savouring the view.
3. Step back in time and explore Inveraray Jail
Inveraray Jail is a 19th-century prison and courtroom in Inveraray, once the main settlement in Argyll. The jail was closed by the end of the 19th century. Today’s it’s an award-winning living museum.
Step back in time and explore how the prisoners used to live here 200 years ago. Learn about the barbaric punishment methods used in the jail – from branding with hot iron bars to nailing ears to a post. In the courtroom, meet the life-size models and costumed characters and witness a very convincing trial. The entrance fee to the museum is £11.50 per adult.
4. Take a stroll along the shore of Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne is the longest sea loch in Scotland, stretching over 40 miles from the Sound of Bute. It’s famous for oysters and herring fishing. While in Inveraray, take a stroll along the shore of Loch Fyne and admire the view.
We were there in the middle of autumn and the loch looked absolutely gorgeous in the reflection of the surrounding mountains.
5. Visit the Inveraray War Memorial
On the Loch Fyne waterfront in Inveraray, you would find a statue of a kilted Highland soldier with a rifle. This well-maintained war memorial commemorates the residents of Inveraray who lost their lives in World War I and II. Sit on one of the benches near the memorial and enjoy the stunning view of Loch Fyne.
6. Enjoy a view of the castle from Inveraray Bridge
Inveraray Bridge (also known as Aray Bridge) stands at the mouth of the River Aray, where it meets Loch Fyne. From this stone-arched bridge, you would get a smashing view of the castle. The footpath on the bridge is very narrow. So, be careful about the incoming traffic.
7. Climb Inveraray Bell Tower
The 10th Duke of Argyll, Niall Diarmid Campbell, was an honorary colonel in the first world war. He built this tower as a memorial to the Clan Campbell members who died in the war. It took almost ten years to complete the construction. This 126 ft high bell tower features ten bells, each named after a Celtic saint.
You can climb up to the top of the tower via 176 steps and enjoy a spectacular view across Loch Fyne and the surroundings.
8. Try out a dram at Loch Fyne Whiskies
Visit the workshop of Loch Fyne Whiskies on the Main Street in Inveraray if you are a fan of liquor. Try out a dram of their blended whiskies, Loch Fyne Living Cask Series, crafted after mixing a carefully chosen single malt with blended whiskies drawn from their original cask. Some of their ranges have received Scottish Whiskey Awards. They have some rare collection as well in the Collector’s Loft. You will have plenty of choices to buy a treat for yourself or a gift for someone.
9. Pop into the local shops
On Main street in Inveraray, there are a number of white-washed quaint little shops to make your trip extra memorable. At the top of the street lies The Christmas Dove, selling Christmas decorations all year long. They have an amazing collection.
In Purdie’s of Argyll, you would have a wide range of organic soaps and beauty products. Bonnie Argyll is another nice gift shop selling a variety of glass items and crafts. Plus, if you have a sweet tooth, step inside Sweet Memories, a candy store. There many more local shops that you would love to explore.
10. Pop into Brambles of Inveraray to eat
Pop into Brambles of Inveraray for a bite to eat. They have a reasonably priced menu for breakfast and lunch. The atmosphere is very relaxing and comfy. Plus, they have a great selection of cakes and pastries, which we are a big fan of. We ordered apple pie and coffee. Probably, the best apple pie we ever had. The service was spot on, and the staff are super friendly – a perfect spot for a tasty treat.
Places you can add to extend your trip to Inveraray:
11. Rest and Be thankful
If you are coming to Inveraray by car from Glasgow, you would drive through a scenic pass on the A83, called the Rest and Be Thankful. It’s located just 8 miles from Tarbet, a small village on the bank of Loch Lomond. Make sure you make a stop at the viewpoint to take in the stunning view.
If you are using public transport, Citylink buses 926 and 976 stop at the viewpoint. But just keep in mind, it’s in the middle of nowhere. So, if you decide to get down here, you might have to wait for long until the next bus arrives.
12. Luss, Loch Lomond
Located on the west bank of Loch Lomond, Luss is one of the prettiest and popular villages in Scotland. Aside from the astounding view of the mountains looming over the loch, Luss has pretty flowery stone houses which look really amazing in full bloom. Plus, the village has some great walks in and around.
Perhaps, no visit to Luss would be complete without a cruise across Loch Lomond. From the pier, you would have cruise and waterbus services in summer to visit other villages on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond – Balloch, Balmaha, Tarbet and Rowerdennan, which is a great base for hiking up to Ben Lomond. Private charters are available too.
If you are a serious hiker, you might be interested in walking along the 7.5 miles seductive stretch of Loch Lomond along the West Highland Way, a long-distance walking trail in Scotland.
13. Kilchurn Castle
Kilchurn Castle lies about 15 miles north of Inveraray. Nestled on the shore of Loch Awe in an incredibly beautiful setting, this castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
If you are travelling by car, it typically takes just about 25 minutes to reach Kilchurn Castle from Inveraray. However, there is no direct public transport. You will have to take the Oban Bound Citylink bus 976 and get down at the Post Office near the Loch Awe train station. The journey takes about 40 minutes. From there, Kilchurn Castle is nearly 35 minutes by walk.
14. Arrochar Alps
Arrochar Alps are a bunch of breathtaking mountains located on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. This mountain range boasts of having several Munros (mountains over 3000 ft) and Corbetts (mountains above 2500 ft). The most popular mountain in the Arrochar Alps is Ben Arthur (2900 ft) which is a Corbett. It’s widely known as the Cobbler because the rocky summit resembles a cobbler leaning over at work.
The walk starts from the Succouth Car park at the head of Loch Long. From Inveraray, It takes about half an hour by car and almost 50 minutes by Glasgow bound Citylink buses 926 and 976 to reach there. The hike would take around 5 – 6 hours via a properly waymarked trail. The view from the top is totally rewarding – a highly recommended walk.
Oban is the gateway of the Scottish Isles and the seafood capital of Scotland. There are several beautiful islands (Isle of Mull, Iona, Staffa, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Kerrera) off the west coast of Scotland that you can access from Oban by Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) ferries. Oban itself is a very picturesque town to stroll around. Plus, Oban has amazing seafood scene. If you are a fan of seafood, you will have to try out the fresh seafood here.
From Inveraray, it’s about an hour by car. If you are using public transport, catch Citylink bus 976 that typically takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Inveraray.
Planing a Trip to Scotland?
For further reading on other SCOTLAND destinations:
🏴 Isle of Skye | 25 Most Incredible Things to do in Isle of Skye
🏴 Cullen, Moray | 2 Days in Cullen, Moray Firth – 17 Things to Do
🏴 Braemar | How to Spend 2 Days in Braemar – 15 Top Things to do
🏴 Plockton | How to Spend a day in Plockton – 7 Best Things to do
🏴 Inveraray | 15 Most Awesome Things to do in Inveraray
🏴 Elgol | How to Spend a Day in Elgol and Loch Coruisk, Isle of Skye
🏴 Best Villages in Scotland | 20 Most picturesque Villages in Scotland
Where to Stay in Inveraray:
Loch Fyne Hotel, Brambles of Inveraray and the George Hotels are luxury hotels at the heart of Inveraray. There are plenty of other budget hotels, B&Bs and a hostel available in Inveraray.
Where to Eat in Inveraray:
Most of the restaurants and coffee shops in Inveraray are located on the Main Street. A few recommended restaurants:
- Brambles of Inveraray
- Mr Pia’s (chip shop)
- The Royal Burgh Cafe
- Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd (located at the head of Loch Fyne; around 12 minutes’ drive from Inveraray)